In continuation of its commitment to raise awareness for intellectual property rights enforcement, the European Union has released a report detailing the prevalence of infringing goods across the continent. Customs officials opened a record number of cases in 2011, ultimately seizing nearly 115 million infringing items with a combined retail value of more than $1.4 billion.
In May 2011, the legislative body adopted a proposal that would expand the role of customs agents in rooting out the misappropriation of intellectual assets through the distribution of fraudulent goods. The number of intercepted cases rose nearly 15 percent compared to 2010 figures, lending credence to the efficacy of expanded enforcement efforts.
"Customs is the EU's first line of defense against fake products which threaten the safety of our citizens and undermine legal businesses," EU commissioner for taxation, customs, anti-fraud and audit Algirdas Semeta explained. "I will continue to push for even greater protection of intellectual property rights in Europe through our work with international partners, the industry and member states."
While the economic impact of infringing goods has been underscored in several settings, this report also brought social implications to the fore. Nearly one-quarter of all fraudulent items seized by customs officials were pharmaceutical products, making IP enforcement a public health priority.